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2009 News Archive

Shared Legacies: The Photographs of Alfred Duggan-Cronin and Edward Curtis

October 14, 2009- Updated December 7, 2009
Curtis and Duggan-Cronin images were printed translucent on glass panels allowing viewers to look through the images at other viewers in the gallery.

Curtis and Duggan-Cronin images were printed translucent on glass panels allowing viewers to look through the images at other viewers in the gallery.

Curating  the “Shared Legacies” exhibit of photographic portraits from southern Africa and North America

Early 20th century photographers Alfred Duggan-Cronin and Edward Curtis made compelling portraits of people living in southern Africa and North America.  Their works are brought together for the first time in an innovative, thought-provoking exhibit at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

In a specially commissioned video, curators Siona O’Connell and Dale Washkansky discuss the exhibit, which explores the nature of photography, and viewing photographs, in different historical and cultural contexts.  The exhibit will travel to Kimberley in 2010.

Although the two photographers were working almost simultaneously on separate continents and were not aware of each other, there were notable similarities—as well as intriguing differences—in their styles.  Both sought to document indigenous peoples at a time when modernity threatened “traditional” ways of life.  Together and separately, the photographs continue to inspire admiration for their artistry and vigorous discussion of their meaning.

The Curtis collection of Native Americans photographs is part of a U.S. State Department-sponsored exhibit touring the world, entitled “Sacred Legacy”, and which first opened in South Africa in the Durban Art Gallery earlier this year. The Duggan-Cronin works are on loan from the McGregor Museum in Kimberley.

Colin Fortune, Director of theMcGregor Museum, happened upon the Curtis photographs in the Durban Art Gallery and put together the original concept of combining the works into one exhibition.

For more information contact:
Amy Bell-Mulaudzi
Public Affairs Section
U.S. Consulate Cape Town
021 702-7367

Alfred Duggan-Cronin

  • Alfred Duggan-Cronin was of Irish descent and came to South Africa to work for De Beers Consolidated Mines in 1897. They gave him a job as a security officer in one of their ‘native compounds’

    In 1904 he bought a simple camera and became interested in photography. In 1919 he went to the Langeberg to photograph the San living there. Many similar expeditions followed. Between the world wars he travelled some 128 000 kilometres, making at least 18 expeditions to photograph the peoples of southern Africa.

    He died in August 1954 and is buried in Kimberley, where The Duggan-Cronin gallery at the McGregor Museum houses his photographs.

    Source: McGregor Museum Kimberley